Top Ten Signs Your Building Requires Waterproofing and Restoration

Some areas of Northern Florida recently experienced over two feet of rainfall in less than a week, causing devastating damage and flooding. If your building has ever faced a water intrusion problem, you know it’s a critical concern that must be repaired immediately. Rapidly identifying and addressing water-related issues while consistently performing proactive measures will reduce repair and restoration expenses while minimizing operational disruptions. This article identifies the top ten signs your building needs waterproofing or restoration services, how to address them, and how to prevent them.  

1. Visible cracks in the Façade and Foundation

Cracks in a building’s façade or foundation are often the first signs of underlying structural issues. They can vary in size from hairline fissures to more significant gaps.

  • Where to look for cracks in the façade and foundation? Inspect the exterior walls, around windows and doors, and the foundation. Pay particular attention to areas where different materials meet, as these are common weak points.
  • How do you address cracks in the façade and foundation? Small, superficial cracks can often be repaired with sealant or patching compounds. Larger or deeper cracks may require professional evaluation and repair, potentially involving structural reinforcement.
  • How can cracks in the façade and foundation be prevented? Ensure proper drainage around the foundation to prevent water accumulation, which can cause the ground to shift and create cracks. Additionally, waterproofing the building envelope and addressing minor issues promptly can prevent them from becoming significant problems.

Read more about why concrete cracks and spalls.

2. Water Stains on Walls and Ceilings

Discoloration on walls and ceilings is a telltale sign of water infiltration. A darker dry stain signifies a slow but long-standing leak. Stains damp to the touch tell you the intrusion is active and could intensify. 

  • Where to look for water stains? Roofs and ceilings are the first place to look, as they are the leading cause of commercial water damage. Regularly inspect windows, façades, basements, and around equipment prone to leaks or corrosion, such as HVAC, boilers, and other equipment. 
  • How do you address water stains on walls and ceilings? Identifying and stopping the leak is the top priority when you spot water stains. Once complete, you can address any cosmetic needs, mold remediation, or structural repairs. 
  • How can water stains on walls and ceilings be prevented? Identify the most vulnerable areas for water intrusion and introduce proactive measures. For areas prone to heavy rain, waterproofing the roof and timely replacement of sealants are effective preventative measures. 

Read more about testing for, preventing, and repairing water intrusion.

3. Peeling or Blistering Paint

Introducing moisture will cause paint to blister, bubble, and eventually peel away. Wallpaper, although less common now, will also peel away when moisture breaks down its adhesive. 

  • Where to look for peeling and blistering? Corners and ceilings are the most common places. Understanding your building’s makeup and history can also help identify vulnerable areas and speed up repair efforts. 
  • How do you address peeling and blistering? After successfully stopping the water intrusion, it’s time for restoration. The level of repair depends on the severity of the water damage. The goal should be to return the impacted area to like-new conditions. 
  • How can peeling and blistering be prevented? It comes down to taking preventative measures against water intrusion. Maximizing exterior maintenance can minimize repair costs. 

Read more information about minimizing repair costs through exterior maintenance

4. Efflorescence

Efflorescence is a powdery substance found on masonry walls. According to the Masonry Institute, efflorescence can only appear when salt is present in the wall, sufficient moisture is present, and a path for the salts to travel to the surface is available. 

  • Where will you find efflorescence? When the salts reach the exterior and moisture is released, crystals appear on the masonry’s exterior. Although the crystals are typically white, they can also be brown, green, or yellow.  
  • How do you address efflorescence? Since efflorescence requires all three factors (salt, moisture, and a path), you have to remove one from the scenario. In this case, we stop the water intrusion and remove the efflorescence through pressure washing.

 

  • How can efflorescence be prevented? Applying water repellent protects your building’s masonry from water intrusion and helps reduce the effects of efflorescence. 

Read more about maintaining your building with pressure washing.

5. Mold and Mildew Growth

Mold and mildew growth pose health risks and indicate underlying water problems. Regular inspections can help detect and address mold issues early, ensuring a safe and healthy environment.

  • Where to look for mold and mildew? Mold and mildew need moisture to appear. Therefore, anywhere moisture is present, such as basements, is a potential concern for mold and mildew growth. 
  • How do you address mold and mildew? The scope of the damage dictates the remediation plan. First, like in most cases, you need to stop the moisture or the mold and mildew will return. Because mold presents health risks, you need to consider Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and the safety of building occupants. 
  • How can mold and mildew be prevented? Your best line of defense is to keep moisture and water out of the equation. Frequently inspecting areas where mold and mildew grow, using moisture detectors, and waterproofing your exterior will help reduce the likelihood of mold and mildew growth. 

Read more about proactive waterproofing strategies.

6. Spalling Concrete

Spalling, the flaking or chipping of concrete or masonry, affects a building’s aesthetics and, when left untreated, can compromise its structural stability. 

  • Where to look for spalling concrete? Structures like parking garages and stadiums, where concrete stands unprotected against the elements, are prime spots to find spalling concrete. This issue is especially true for states with frequent freezing and thawing cycles. 
  • How do you address spalling concrete? You’ll need to remove and replace the damaged concrete, but first, you have to figure out the root cause of the spalling. Next, you need to factor in the severity of the damage. Spalling is a sign of an underlying issue within the concrete that can signal rust and corrosion of rebar, thus weakening your structure. 
  • How can you protect concrete from spalling? If the cause is environmental, you can apply sealers and waterproofing membranes to slow the spalling down; if not, stop it altogether. 

Read more about how to approach minor exterior building repairs.

7. Rust and Corrosion

When you see rust, it’s a sign that water has breached the façade, contacting metal and causing it to corrode. Rust weakens the bond between the concrete and the rebar, triggering additional concrete and structural damage.

  • Where should you look for rust and corrosion? You may spot rusting streaking down brick lintels or cracked or spalling concrete. If you spot spalling, there’s a good chance the rebar reinforcing the concrete is corroding as well. 
  • How do you address rust and corrosion? Signs of rust could require extensive restoration, structural reinforcement, or maybe just minor concrete repair or sealant replacement. 
  • How can rust and corrosion be prevented? Applying coatings or using corrosion inhibitors to rebar are both effective treatments in slowing the effects of corrosion. However, a more practical approach is keeping water out by applying waterproofing membranes and sealant to all high-risk areas.  

For more information on façade safety repairs.

8. Pooling Water

This one seems obvious, but sometimes, people address the symptoms rather than the problem. Maybe you have a leaking skylight that only creates a pool when it rains, so we place a bucket underneath and mop it up until next time. As we’ve learned, water finds its way, so it begins to permeate behind walls and cause problems that someone cannot remove by mopping away. 

  • Where to look for pooling water? Under sprinkler heads, skylights, and around equipment such as boilers and water heaters. 
  • How do you address pooling water? A mop is only part of the equation. You can often remedy skylight leaks by reapplying sealant. Other leaks may require rapid leak investigation to identify the point of origin. 
  • How can pooling water be prevented? Develop a proactive plan that involves routine inspections, replacing and reapplying sealants, and waterproofing membranes according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. 

Read more about rapid commercial leak repair.

9. Failed Joint Sealants

If not addressed promptly, failed joint sealants can lead to significant water intrusion and structural damage. Sealants are critical for preventing water from seeping through gaps and joints in the building envelope.

  • Where to look for failed joint sealants? Inspect areas where different building materials meet, such as around windows, doors, expansion joints, and between panels. Look for signs of deterioration, like cracking, punctures, shrinking, hardening, discoloration, or separation from the substrate.
  • How do you address failed joint sealants? Remove the old, deteriorated sealant before applying a new, high-quality sealant. Clean and dry the surfaces thoroughly to ensure a proper bond. Consulting a professional may be necessary to select the appropriate sealant for your building’s specific needs.
  • How can joint sealants be prevented from failing? Regularly inspect and maintain joint sealants as part of your building’s maintenance plan. Use high-quality, UV-resistant sealants and follow manufacturer guidelines for application and curing. Proactively replace aging sealants to prevent water intrusion and extend the life of your building’s envelope.

Read more about selecting and applying joint sealants.

10. Humidity, Condensation, and Musty Odors

When water invades, it’s not just your eyes that detect the signs. If you encounter musty odors or notice higher humidity levels in your building that don’t align with the weather or internal climate, there’s a good chance you have a water intrusion problem. These subtle indicators often point to hidden leaks or moisture accumulation, signaling the need for immediate investigation and repair.  

  • Where will you find humidity, condensation, and musty odors? You’ll often see these signs in basements and areas that lack poor ventilation.
  • How do you address humidity, condensation, and musty odors? These signs indicate insufficient waterproofing and can lead to mold growth and poor air quality. Conduct an immediate inspection to rectify the source of these conditions. 
  • How can you prevent high humidity, condensation, and musty odors in commercial buildings? Your best bet is to create an environment where the air flows and the water doesn’t. Keeping the water out for basements may require below-grade waterproofing or soil grouting

Read more about preventing below-grade water infiltration.

You Know the Signs, Now You Know Who to Call

Recognizing and addressing the signs of water infiltration and structural issues is crucial for maintaining your building’s integrity and value. We encourage you to take our Building Façade Assessment Tool, which will help you identify the signs explained in this article.

Regular inspections and proactive maintenance can save significant repair costs and prevent operational disruptions. Partnering with experts ensures rapid identification of these issues and quick resolution.

For comprehensive waterproofing and restoration services, trust Valcourt’s expertise. Contact us today to protect your investment.

 

Water Infiltration: Testing, Repairs, and Prevention

Water is so essential for life but can also be one of the greatest threats to the integrity of our built environments. Its pervasive nature allows it to seep into the smallest cracks and imperfections. When water infiltration occurs, it can exert tremendous pressure, especially when the water freezes or when it leads to soil movement beneath foundations. Testing, repairing, and preventing water intrusion is critical to your building’s longevity. It’s one of those problems that will only get worse over time. This article aims to help you understand water infiltration and how to address it.

What Happens When Water Infiltrates the Building Envelope?

Water flows without feeling or malice as it respectfully follows the laws of gravity. Your building envelope acts against water to divert it elsewhere and prevent water infiltration. When the envelope or its components fail, and water infiltrates the building envelope, several things can happen, none of which are good for your building.

  • Water molecules are sticky, which means they can carry dirt, pollutants, and other contaminants into your building, exacerbating the damage.
  • Water dissolves other molecules, further breaking down building materials and facilitating mold growth.
  • Water expands and contracts, causing cracks and further damage as temperatures fluctuate.

Common entry points for water infiltration are roofs and ceilings, anywhere there are cracks, such as the facade, foundation, or basement, and where sealant fails around entry points or windows.

Water isn’t taking a nap behind the scenes. It’s tirelessly breaking down building components, making more room for more water until it’s directed otherwise. Ignoring signs of water infiltration will eventually lead to structure damage and health risks.

Effective Strategies for Water Infiltration Management

The two most effective strategies to address water infiltration are being proactive in keeping water out and responding rapidly when you can’t. Waterproofing and replacing sealants according to manufacturer standards are proactive. Conversely, regular maintenance checks of the building envelope, including roofs, windows, and walls, can catch any potential issues early, allowing you to take action.

Testing at Signs of Water Infiltration

While the signs of water infiltration are often obvious, the root causes may not be. Testing ensures you get to the source of the problem. At ProXpress, we accurately pinpoint the leak’s origin to make the necessary repairs. The last thing you want to do is cover up the leak without fixing it properly.

For instance, our technicians perform destructive testing to provide definitive proof that the sealant joints are the entry point for water into the building. We employ water testing to recreate the leak scenario, determining with certainty which hole is causing which leak. This method also helps rule out areas that are not contributing to the problem.

Addressing Water Infiltration

The first stage of repairing damage from water intrusion involves stopping and fixing the cause of the leak. Once this is complete, it’s time to assess the damage and work on restoring your building to its original condition. Depending on the severity of the water damage, you may need to take emergency action to mediate mold or address structural issues with the facade.

If you catch the problem early enough, your building may only need minor facade repair or sealant replacement. After the work is complete, we conduct a post-job follow-up complete with documentation photographs and retest the area.

Staying Ahead of Water Infiltration

If you weren’t taking a proactive approach to preventing water intrusion, it’s not too late. We help you identify waterproofing solutions and can create a maintenance plan to avoid common pitfalls. Our level of proactive planning is a core service you will find with ProXpress that you won’t find elsewhere.

ProXpress: Your Ultimate Strategy for Water Infiltration

ProXpress is your one-stop shop for water infiltration testing, repair, and prevention. You don’t have to rely on other service providers to handle different stages, a common cause of project delays.

When water breaks through your building’s defenses, the rapid response team from ProXpress is there when you need them the most. With a comprehensive approach and professionalism, the team ensures they address the immediate concern and provide you with a path forward to protect your building. This includes identifying other potential building concerns such as safety and compliance risks, facade access, or other wear and tear.

Protect Your Building From Water Infiltration with ProXpress

A proactive approach to water infiltration is your best defense, but sometimes, even the most formidable lines of defense aren’t enough. That’s why it pays to have a reliable partner capable of addressing the problem quickly and efficiently.

If you suspect you may have a water intrusion problem, contact the ProXpress team. Our team of experts will not only address the problem but also provide you with the tools and support you need to proactively protect your building.

 

Strategic Sealant Replacement: Knowing the Right Time to Replace Building Sealants

What is the key to building longevity? For the Romans, with structures still standing 2,000 years later, it was self-healing concrete. In the U.S., where the average age of commercial buildings qualifies them for an AARP card, the key to longevity is preventative maintenance.

Sealants protect buildings and prevent water, air, and other environmental elements from seeping in and wreaking havoc. When left unchecked, external elements can significantly damage your building’s structural integrity and shorten its lifespan. This article will guide you through the optimal timing to replace building sealant, signs of sealant failure, and actionable advice to ensure your building’s longevity and aesthetic appeal.

Building Sealant Application and Lifespan

Most commercial buildings in the U.S. are in the “old-age” phase of the building life cycle, with an average age of over 53. A condo in Honolulu shows that buildings have the potential to last hundreds of years through a proactive approach and by addressing warning signs before they lead to significant problems.

Sealants aim to keep unwanted water, pests, and potentially hazardous pathogens at bay. These applications are an industry staple, but they don’t last forever. They require inspection, reapplication, and replacement to ensure effective weatherproofing and waterproofing. There are two main types of sealants to consider, each offering distinct advantages.

Silicone sealants are known for their durability, flexibility, and resistance to temperature variations and UV light, making them ideal for use on glass, metal, or tile surfaces. More of a joint compound than a sealant, silicone dries fast and can last up to 20 years or more, depending on the environmental conditions.

Polyurethane sealants, on the other hand, are better suited for natural surfaces like wood or stone due to their strength and adhesion. While polyurethane sealants are true sealants, they typically have a shorter lifespan than silicone, ranging from 5 to 10 years, and take longer to cure and dry.

Your building service provider can help you choose the proper sealant based on environmental exposure, scope of work, desired longevity, and upkeep.

Signs It’s Time to Replace Building Sealant

Building inspections are an ideal time to look for indicators that the sealant is failing. At the minimum, these inspections should occur annually. Factors such as building age, environmental exposure, and problematic areas require more frequent inspections.

Here’s what to look for when inspecting your building sealants:

1. Is the surface of the sealant cracked or alligatored?

2. Are there cracks, punctures, discoloration, or missing sealants on the building exterior and/or window perimeters?

3. Has the existing sealant become hardened?

4. Are any sealants separated from the substrate/wall or window/door perimeters?

5. Is the sealant reverting to a soft/tacky state?

6. Is there any evidence the joints have been skimmed over?

Catching a problem early makes all the difference in remedying it. Leveraging technology like drones to record video allows you to capture photos to document how well your building is aging, plan for capital improvement projects, and give you an idea of how long an issue has persisted.

ROI and Value of Proactive Sealant Replacement

Regular inspections and proactive sealant replacement deliver ROI savings on energy costs, prevent extensive damages, and avoid tenant disruptions. The Onslow Memorial Hospital, located in Hurricane Alley, relies on waterproofing in the face of relentless weather to ensure services aren’t interrupted for the patients they care for.

In our sister company, Valcourt’s, webinar “Unlocking Hidden Value: How to Optimize Your Facilities Budget,” Adam Hibshmam of ProXpress shares a real-world example of how passing on a minor painting and sealant can balloon repair costs. In two short years, minor repairs became extensive as the damage permeated the interior, adding another $105,000 to repair costs and nearly doubling the original quote.

The ROI in this case is clear – taking preventative measures such as sealant replacement can save thousands of dollars in potential damages. But it’s not just about the cost savings; it’s also about maintaining a safe and functional space for tenants and employees.

Implementing a Proactive Sealant Replacement Program

The Department of Energy’s (DOE) Building Technology Office is trying to match the Romans by developing a self-healing sealant of their own. This innovation has great potential in minimizing costs and extending the life of buildings. However, until this miracle product becomes a reality, implementing a proactive sealant replacement program is your best bet for preserving building integrity.

  1. Routine Inspection Schedule: Establish a regular schedule for sealant inspections, focusing on areas known for water infiltration and environmental wear.
  2. Documentation and Tracking: Record inspection dates, document findings with photos, and actions taken. Thorough documentation ensures consistency, aids in planning future maintenance, and provides a historical record of sealant performance.
  3. Professional Consultation: Engage with building service providers to assess your building’s specific needs, recommend the best sealant options, and ensure proper application for long-lasting protection.

Implementing this program involves periodic maintenance and responding proactively to the earliest signs of wear or damage, such as cracking, discoloration, or detachment from the substrate. By partnering with specialists, you can tailor effective strategies for sealant maintenance, ensuring your building remains secure, functional, and visually appealing.

A Proactive Sealant Strategy for Building Longevity

The longevity and resilience of your building rest significantly on the strategic replacement of sealants. Proactive maintenance curbs potential damage and delivers considerable return on investment, safeguarding your property’s aesthetic and structural integrity.

Enhance your building’s integrity with our Building Facade Assessment Tool, featuring a comprehensive section on joint sealants. This resource allows you to visually identify maintenance needs and provides a detailed report.

Don’t wait for minor concerns to escalate into costly repairs; explore our tool now to prioritize your building’s longevity.

two men inspecting commercial building facade preventative maintenance